(urth) Thecla's "Identity"

Marc Aramini marcaramini at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 4 20:20:27 PDT 2013

Sent from my iPhone

On Apr 4, 2013, at 6:16 PM, David Stockhoff <dstockhoff at verizon.net> wrote:

> On 4/4/2013 8:17 PM, Marc Aramini wrote:
>> --- On *Thu, 4/4/13, Michael Thayer /<michael.o.thayer at gmail.com>/* wrote:
>>    From: Michael Thayer <michael.o.thayer at gmail.com>
>>    Subject: Re: (urth) Thecla's "Identity"
>>    To: urth at lists.urth.net
>>    Date: Thursday, April 4, 2013, 4:53 PM
>>    I agree it is unlikely that Ethel Rosenberg's forebrain was
>>    ritualistically consumed by fellow Soviet-sympathizers, and
>>    certainly not with the same results as the consumption of Thecla's
>>    forebrain (no Alzabo extract in the 1950s).  One question I would
>>    want to explore before addressing the Rosenberg issue is the
>>    broader question regarding the extent to which tBotNS alludes to
>>    20th century history/historical figures.  Neil Armstrong literally
>>    appears in the text (see Chapter 5, tSotT).  Borski argues that
>>    John F. Kennedy does as well (see Chapter 11, Solar Labyrinth).
>>     Master Ultan seems rather straightforwardly to be an homage to
>>    Jorge Luis Borges (perhaps this is a literary allusion rather than
>>    an historical allusion, though I don't think so:  there are many
>>    literary Borgesian allusions in the text -- various "imaginary
>>    beings," the library, Severian's eidetic memory -- but Ultan seems
>>    to be a nod to Borges the man).  So I count two confirmed 20th
>>    century historical figure references (Armstrong, Borges) and two
>>    proposed (JFK, E. Rosenberg).  Do you agree?  What other 20th
>>    century allusions appear in the text?  Does anyone agree with
>>    Borski's Navigator as JFK argument found in Chapter 11 of his book
>>    Solar Labyrinth?  Addressing these questions might better equip us
>>    to evaluate the intriguing idea of Thecla as Rosenberg.
>>    -----Inline Attachment Follows-----
>>    _______________________________________________
>> No, Borski's navigator chapter is awful. It is the saint, Brendan the Navigator, not JFK.
>> Wolfe does way more mythological and religious references than 20th century ones. I usually say literary and mythic allusions are a positive match, engineering and mechanical puzzles a yes, but some of Borski's associations really get to me as blatant and intentional misprision, though he does occasionally do a wonderful job. He is VERY hit and miss in terms of actually making valid comparisons and claims in the text, in my opinion.
>> Some of James Jordans interpretations were closer to the heart of Wolfe's intent because he always pulled out the religious connotations, but too often he would descend to his own particular obsessions - the idea salvation through works and acts instead of faith.
>> In that way sometimes Wolfe's elisions are a litmus test, but the theories that have the most explicative force and answer mechanistically WHY things happen are the best, in my opinion.
> Still, it strikes me that Wolfe rarely actually makes things up completely. He projects, extends, mixes, composes, traces, recreates, counters. There's no telling what might rattle around in the attic of his brain that first impressed itself on him during his formative time in college and the army. Thecla is a complex creature. It's always worth a shot to propose a model.
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Fair enough.  Sometimes lit criticism and explication takes odd turns.  One of my favorite examples is beckett's unnameable.  Our narrator is a one eyed immovable weeping vomiting mess randomly swathed in darkness and light, and hundreds of papers you find deal with all kinds of gobbledegook about self knowledge and perception in the outside world and transforming the subjective "I" when really our narrator is just a penis that has anthropomorphized itself and made up a story about once having limbs. Beckett was enraged when explicit mention of a penis was removed from the work because, I am sure,  it was the dominant metaphor behind it.  Yet none of these intellectuals and scholars ever mention that the narrator is a penis.  Do they just not notice?  Is it beckett's joke on the world? Thus I favor the big picture explications, and am weary of the postmodern slippery slope. 

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